Sunday, 22 December 2013

Day 63

(Tuesday 17th December)

Today the alarm was set an hour earlier in attempt to get a head start on the mileage before the real high temperatures kicked in.

Mark's feet had continued to heal well which was amazing news, a great start to the day.  The morning was made even better with the most spectacular sunrise. For all of the negatives of flies, heat, melting road this was certainly a highlight (if only for a few moments!).

A spectacular start to the morning was soon to be over.  Mark was becoming increasingly hassled by the flies and the pain had started again in his feet. Mark sent me a message so say how much he was struggling, I knew that this would be a low end to the morning.

As I waited for Mark to approach the RV, I started to prepare for water exchange and a snack.  Just then I heard the blip of a siren. My heart sunk, I was parked perched on the corner of a farmer's track – was I in trouble? I coyly went to the front of the RV to step out and saw a flash of a Newcastle top! This had to be good news! I greeted by a big smile from Andrew, the Zone Commander for the NSW Fire and Rescue. Andrew had previously been in touch on Facebook as he lives in a town not too far from where Mark would be running. Andrew's Dad was originally from North Shields so the family are big supporters of 'the toon'. This was great! In the distance a very dreary Mark was heading towards us, he almost dropped to his knees when he saw the friendly black and white stripes. His pace quickened and he greeted Andrew with a huge bear hug!

Andrew had brought lots of fresh supplies and even an ice cold bottle of champagne (that we will unfortunately have to save for Sydney). Andrew was a great addition to day 62 and as if it couldnt get any better we were offered a 'ride-a-long' in the fire truck – high speed and with sirens. Mark was giddy with excitement as he got to sound the siren himself.

The man who saved day 63. Fire Chief Andrew. #legendary #geordie 

"Break over. Time to get back out there. I'm in the mood to attack again."

The break with Andrew had cost Mark an hour, it was certainly well worth it as he skipped into the next running stretch for the day.

10:00 "Meanwhile, I've found some pace. It's only 10am and very hot. Time to get into these miles."

It's fantastic to hear that so many people have stopped by the roadside over the last 63 days to check that Mark was ok.  Today with the temperatures rising Mark was also handed bottles of cool water to keep him safe in the immense heat.

13:00 - "20 miles done so far on what feels like the hottest day of the tour so far."

At 13:30 Mark stopped for a recharge and a porridge top up.  He remained in high spirits after the visit from Andrew earlier in the day.

It was clear that the temperature was starting to increase. The RV was reading 41 Celsius, in the shade. It was now becomingly increasing diffucilt to withstand the heat, and that's not just for Mark.  I'm sure that the other support team members will fully understand what it's like to be a prisoner in the RV some days.  It's a tough decision as to whether I stay indoors and melt or go outside and go insane being pestered by flies.  What to do? 

Mark was eager to send me forward to the next town in order to seek shade and AC. This was not going to happen. There is absolutely no way that, in this heat, Mark can be left out on the road unsupervised for a prolonged period of time. Unfortunately out here the temperature is constantly high up until approx 5pm when it then peaks to the hottest period of the day.

Day 63 was saved by Andrew but the whole day was dedicated to Stephen Guss's father:

"On 17 th December 2001 my Dad lost his fight against cancer. Please run a step in Wilf's memory on Tuesday" - Stephen Guss

Mark ran through to early evening and was please to see this sign:

"This means 43.5 miles left in the #sturthighway. I'll be off it tomorrow afternoon"

"It's starting to cool a bit. At last. It's forecast to be warmer tomorrow."

At 8pm Mark tweeted the following: 

"I've stopped at 35 miles. A deep rooted pocket of blood on my left foot is causing considerable pain."

"The cause may be the amount of melted Tarmac and small stones trapped in the corresponding part of my running shoe."

"I'm very pleased with the way I attacked today in very very warm conditions. The next 2 days will be warmer. That's the challenge."

"Less than 400 miles to #Bondi."

"2088.45 miles ran in 63 days. #eat #sleep #run #repeat"

"It is like an oven in the RV. Too many insects to open windows. #standard"

We made the decision to park on a (safe) roadside for the evening in Darlington Point.  There was a roadhouse opposite, Gum View Cafe, which gave me the night off from cooking (and melting) inside of the sauna/RV.  When the owner, Judy, found out what Mark was doing she very kindly offered a donation (but was less enthused about having her photo taken!).

"Lights out. It's another bug infested furnace of an RV tonight. It's the hottest I've known it in 63 days. Goodnight!"